Archive for the ‘rodeo’ tag
Stress in horses can cause several health worries, but the good news is that it can be easily spotted and controlled. Stress triggers the releasing of cortisol, the hormone responsible for ‘fight or flight’ reactions. While this is nature’s defence mechanism at work in natural habitats, it could cause disaster in domestic environments. Frequent release of cortisone because of stress can adversely impact body functions like digestion and behavior. It could also damage the reproduction, immunity and cardiovascular systems. Stress may cause dysentery, stomach ulcers and colic.
It is hard to think of the factors that would stress horses in a domestic environment. They are not working 9 to 5, they’re not handling choking traffic, they’re not fretting about budgets. So what do they fret over?
Most causes of stress in horses relate to switch in routine or environment: changes in feed, bedding, pasture and pasture friends. Even tiny and reputedly insignificant changes are capable of worrying horses.
Below, I give you an inventory of common stress solutions and causes for them.
1. Untimely feeding patterns
While horses spend considerable time grazing. As a matter of fact, they spend up to 70% of their time in grazing. If at pasture, your horses will follow their natural inclinations. If not, you should feed them not less than four times each day, spaced out over the day.
Look out for feeds containing excess carbs, especially of the quick release type. Keep your horses on a feed of the slow energy-release type.
2. Help them work it out
Like with humans, horses work out their stress significantly with exercise. Take them frequently out for a stroll, a ride or some extra turnout. The exercise will help significantly with stress.
Horses belong to herds. They derive a feeling of security and emotional support from their herds. Horses in a herd understand how to entertain themselves. Each horse in a herd is given their own place in the totem pole, When deprived of others of their species, horses feel lonely and that solitude leads to stress. While the best pasture and herd mates are other horses, donkeys and goats are good as substitutes.
Stable your horses together such that they’re in sight of one another. They derive comfort from knowing they aren’t alone.
4. Monotony and apathy
Boredom is a giant cause of stress, whether in humans or in horses. Give your horses lots of toys to prevent them from relieving their stress by activities like weaving or cribbing. Mirrors are very good stress busters: plenty of horses find having a look at themselves in mirrors sedative.
5. Boost confidence
Confident horses deal much better with stress. If you consistently but gradually treat your horse to formerly unknown smells, sounds and sights, you are playing on its natural sense of curiosity. When a horse is curious, it chases the object that intrigues it and stress goes out the back door. Make sure you aren’t forcing your pony into anything; let it work things out at its own rate.
6. Watch out for contamination!
When your pony is feeling stress, speak to it as much as you can in soft tones. Keep cool and help it keep cool. Don’t let your horse’s stress trouble you, too.